Parenting Logic: Over Indulgence
Parents are very busy these days, working full time jobs and sometimes even two jobs just to make ends meet. All too often they feel pressured and overwhelmed and end up parenting from moment to moment. The feeling of helplessness in managing their children’s needs and wants cause them to take the easiest way out of a conflict situation. It is easier to give in rather than taking the time to enforce limits and boundaries with their children. Giving in temporarily avoids the guilt of not having enough time with their children but this can lead to over indulgence. Parents often give to their children to define their love for them, to make up for lost time, or mend a conflict or just out of frustration. The children will then expect from them to feel loved by them. It is a vicious cycle of giving in too easily, buying too frequently and over indulging. 

Parenting can be very exasperating. You want to be a good parent and then you realize what you thought was an act of showing your love is actually causing the reverse affect in your children. Being indulgent and giving in to your children's wants will often backfire. If you are too lenient, inconsistent and/or over indulgent your child learns to take advantage of you. Their behavior becomes uncontrollable. They will display fits of anger if you say no and don't stop until you give in and say yes. What they learn is you can be manipulated. They feel unsafe, confused and even frightened because they learn they can't depend on you or trust your word. Children need to feel secure by knowing you are the adult. They want you to provide boundaries and limits and when you don’t their world is shaken, leaving them just as frustrated and confused as you. The cycle of not being able to say no, or saying no without consistent purpose, perpetuates their behavior in a never-ending cycle of defiance. Contrary to their behavior they actually are looking for you to give them appropriate boundaries and limits. They want you to say“no”, appropriately to their age and development. This will make them feel safe and able to depend and trust you. Teaching your child the logical limits and boundaries of life is part of a good parenting plan.

One of the most frequent problems I have observed in parents who over indulge their children is they over indulge themselves. When a parent cannot say no to themselves they are not likely to say no to their children. A parent that cannot make boundaries and limits, who act impulsively and indulgent with themselves are likely to do the same with their children. Indulging your child and yourself is easy. Making clear, consistent, and logical boundaries and limits is much more difficult. You will not always get the reward of a happy smile or cuddle hug but in the end you will be raising a child with self discipline and the tools to be empathetic, self motivated, the skill to delay gratification and to accept the consequences of their decisions. They will also learn appreciation and gratitude.

Preparing your child for adulthood is the number one role of a parent. Allowing them to experience natural consequences to their choices may be unpleasant and painful but the rewards of seeing how this strengthens their character will be enormous. By over indulging our children we are setting them up for low self esteem, lack of confidence, inability to cope with stress, inability to set realistic limitations in their life and selfishness. Children of over indulgent parents as well as overly strict parents have a higher incidence of defiance, anger problems, depression, low self esteem, low confidence and lack of self- control, leading to risky behaviors involving drugs, alcohol, stealing and lying and a higher incident of personality disorders.

If you find you are an over indulgent parent it is not too late to change. Depending on the age and develop of your child you can begin to make small changes. One of the best ways is to parent with a purpose. Knowing what you want to teach your child, setting clear rules and then following up with being consistent. For example, if you don’t want them to go outside before they have completed their homework or cleaned their room then this is the rule. Say it, mean it and stick to it. They will soon learn to clean their room and do their homework before asking to go outside. If you want to teach them responsibility and the value of earning privileges then set up situations so they will learn responsibility. One example is setting up chores and then providing them with an allowance. This will give them a sense of self worth and esteem, a measurement of their accomplishment and the ability to manage their money and to plan ahead for things they would like to buy. When there is a gift giving situation that occurs they will understand what it means to work for something and they will be appreciative for what you buy them. They will understand when you say no and will find ways to earn money to buy the item they desire. As you can see, over indulging parenting stops your children from learning life skills that are needed to be successful adults.

You are your children’s greatest influence. Their behaviors and responses are directly related to what you have or haven’t taught them. Let them be your greatest motivation to parenting with purpose. There are many more ways to parent successfully and it isn’t as difficult as you think but it does take effort and a willingness to parent your children with a plan for success.

Author's Bio: 

Theresa K. Cooke is the founder of FACES, INC. Graduating from Albion College, she went on to Hofstra University in New York to earn her Master’s degree. She brings over 27 years of experience through training, certification, education and experience working with individuals and families. Theresa is EMDR trained in Level I and Level II and has completed mediation training through the Mediation Training and Consulting Institute.

Theresa has appeared on local radio and television to discuss various topics ranging from sexual trauma to commentaries on current events in the mental health field. She is accepted as an expert witness in the area of trauma, childhood development, parenting time and custody evaluations.

She is also a Diplomat of Clinical Forensic Counseling-Forensic Assessment / Evaluation / Mediation of Child Custody Evaluations from the American College of Certified Forensic Counselors and the National Association of Forensic Counselors as well as a Nationally Certified Psychologist.